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Gringo GulchSex, Tourism, and Social Mobility in Costa Rica$
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Megan Rivers-Moore

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226373386

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226373553.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 22 October 2019

Motherhood, Consumption, and the Purchase of Respectability

Motherhood, Consumption, and the Purchase of Respectability

(p.90) Chapter 4 Motherhood, Consumption, and the Purchase of Respectability
Gringo Gulch

Megan Rivers-Moore

University of Chicago Press

Although sex work remains highly stigmatized, it allows sex workers to attain some level of economic, if not social, mobility. This chapter challenges the idea that sex work is always about mere subsistence. Instead, it suggests that sex tourism workers work to survive, but they also demonstrate significant personal ambition and aim not only to increase their own consumption levels, but to get ahead. Women are clear about what sex work enables for their families and themselves: a level of consumption otherwise unavailable to them as low-income and poor women. Sex work offers an opportunity to consume and to get ahead that these women have been unable to attain in other kinds of employment, primarily domestic and factory work. Furthermore, sex work allows women to think of themselves as particularly good mothers, able to provide for and spend important quality time with their kids. The chapter argues that survival, consumption, and motherhood are deployed, often in contradictory and conflicting ways, in order to counteract the effects that stigma has on sex workers. It also suggests that sex workers may very well be the quintessential subjects of neo-liberalism in Latin America, in their embrace of entrepreneurial work and consumption.

Keywords:   consumption, motherhood, respectability, sex workers, work, neoliberalism, economic mobility

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